Desperate Days: The Madeleine McCann Mystery
10/04/2007 AT 12:00 PM EDT
At home, they find a bit of respite, surrounded by the happy chaos of the children playing and the constant stream of friends who have pitched in to run errands and help with chores. The McCanns talk to their kids about their big sister often, in an effort to keep her alive at least in their minds. Madeleine's photos are everywhere in the house, as are her toys. "Kate and I have told them we don't know where she is," wrote Gerry on his blog, "but lots of people are looking for her and we hope they will find her."
Meanwhile, the agonizing journey of Kate and Gerry McCann, both 39, from the largely anonymous life of respected doctors to international symbols of the perils of parenthood, is entering a critical phase of its own. Still suspects in their 3-year-old daughter's disappearance, with photographers camped out nearby, the couple continue to deny any crime – and they are fighting to keep the focus on what they insist is the most important thing: finding their little girl. They are prepared to take lie detector tests, but polygraphs are not used in Portuguese courts. They will not comment on reports that they have hired their own investigators, but with the help of donations of more than $2 million, they will be launching a massive advertising campaign in Portugal and southern Spain, including remote areas, featuring billboards and newspaper ads with Madeleine's picture. As supporters of the McCanns tell it, the initiative offers the couple some badly needed reason for optimism. But there is no denying the toll already taken on their spirits by the seeming lack of progress in the case. "Some days are better than others," says the family's public relations representative Clarence Mitchell. "It is exceedingly hard and getting harder."